Breathe (Breath in the Pages Sequel)
~ Part Two ~
Author's Notes: This was unbelievably hard to continue. I just can't *think* with Sesshoumaru and Kagome in the same modern timeline if they were together in the past. It's out of my scope of imagination almost.
This is dedicated to all the people who left requests for me to continue it. Especially the people who took the time to email me, I'm not sure I replied to half of them, but rest assured I received them. Although I love this story the chapter lengths are unbelievably long (I never intended it to be more than a one-shot) and inspiration is hard to come by.
It was unnatural. The purple hue that surrounded him and his body. He was encased in it. He could see nothing beyond it and it was making his head hurt. For a moment, he was hesitant to move expecting it to be painful. He was surprised and confused; as to when he did it was painless. It had hurt before hadn't it? He could not recall being injured, but the sensation was fresh in his memory however.
The purple haze cleared and he found himself in the clearing by the village Inuyasha was often found in. Beside him was the old, dry well. He peered around curiously - waiting. No hanyou charged him, seeking out his destruction. No one came at all; it was as though he were not there at all, unnoticed by the pitiful human insects that inhabited the village some distance off.
He recalled then, that his half brother was gone. Lost to the depths of hell with his human lover. Yes, he remembered that now, Naraku had been killed and Inuyasha had gone away with the dead miko. The other humans he assumed to be within the village, but something still troubled him. Something about the human miko his half brother had traveled with. Why was his memory of her so fragmented, better yet, why was he thinking about her at all? She normally did not stand out other than as an annoyance.
Something was certainly amiss. He felt the same- single arm intact, one arm still missing. His appendages were accounted for. He was not injured, but he could smell her. The miko girl, her scent covered him. What the hell? He reeked of her! The bitch had actually touched him? Where was the wretched woman, so that she may be killed for this offense?
Yet, there was no stirring about him. Her scent did not linger here as it had on previous occasions. He hesitated and took off toward the village. She would undoubtedly be there. Stranger still, when he arrived he still detected no sign of her. Her scent did not register at all, as it should have if she were there. His senses were functioning, he could smell the rest of the humans, and she was easily detectable among the others. Her scent was different, cleaner perhaps. He had always simply thought of it as 'otherworldly' and chalked it up to her miko status and dismissed it.
He faltered, hovering about the edges of the village, discreetly watching, but there was no sign of her. Nor of her human companions - none of them seemed to be here. None but the old woman whose name he didn't know. He followed her with his eyes as she hobbled out of her hut to the edge of a field and began pulling up greenery.
He stepped out, into her sight and she looked up.
She did not continue her task but met his stare evenly.
"Where is the miko?"
"Miko? You mean Kagome? Special girl she was, but magic brought her to this world and magic took her away."
Magic? Is that what happened with the purple hue from earlier? The girl? Had he been with the girl and she somehow sent him back? It may explain why her scent lingered so strongly on him, but it did not explain why he could not remember. What would he have been doing with her in the first place? His feet carried him away from there and he knew without thinking of it he was heading home. Home to the Western Lands where he belonged, but something remained. Something tugged eerily at him when he thought of her and each time the feeling got a little stronger.
There was something utterly cinematic about being alone there in the well house, blood staining her clothes. She was beginning to feel lightheaded. She suddenly thought her mother would be unhappy she'd ruined another school uniform. Had he cut her deeper than she thought? She didn't want to look, she didn't want to move. Maybe if she just stayed here...
Maybe it would be so bad.
Oh, it hurt. It stung, tears finally gathered in her eyes. Why her? Why did this have to happen to her? Why did she have to sacrifice herself for all these people? Why did she have to be born with such a selfless character? Her breath hitched, and her vision clouded. She vaguely realized she was seconds from passing out and didn't try to fight it.
Perhaps Midoriko was right - perhaps she too was going to her grave, but would she be going peacefully? She shivered, suddenly feeling cold. Where would this end? Where did the pain of the Shikon end? She prayed in that one singular moment left of consciousness that she could bear it all. That she could suffer every last ounce of pain the Shikon could dish out and wipe the demonic little jewel out of existence.
There was something about the way she was looking at him. Something that reminded him of something else, but it was all fuzzy in his head. He couldn't quite pinpoint the look, the expression.
"Are you okay, Sesshoumaru-sama?"
She was older, taller, more independent than she had been, but the female in front of him was still little Rin. A few years had past and now she stood on her own as a teenager. Yet something was bothering him lately about her. Perhaps it was the look she got in her eyes occasionally when she stared at him. A look she got when she was worried about him. Why did such strong feelings bubble up when he thought of a female, a human female worrying over him? It was baffling. Again his thoughts trailed back to Inuyasha's human miko. No one had heard or seen from her since the battle with Naraku many years ago. The young woman he'd seen fighting with his brother had become a legend told in every village. He'd given up looking for her after that initial afternoon when he'd been told she 'left this world' via magic.
He could only imagine what kind of 'world' she came from, but he did congratulate himself on pinpointing her as 'otherworldly'. She did not fit in here among these people.
"Sesshoumaru-sama?" Rin repeated, now tugging at his sleeve.
"It's nothing Rin."
She was hesitant to accept this, but she ultimately did. He was giving her no other choice in the matter. She scampered off, heading down to the human village as she did so often these days. As she aged it appeared she enjoyed the social company of other humans and he had allowed her free leave of him whenever she wished to go. It did free up quite a bit of his time, and Jaken didn't seem to mind much either.
He no longer felt the same. He felt different now than he had on that sunny afternoon after the unexplainable purple fog. His nerves felt calmer than they had before, perhaps it was an effect from raising Rin, but somehow he got that same strange, tingling feeling again. The feeling that always reminded him of Inuyasha's - what was her name?
The old woman had called her 'Kagome' that must have been it. When he thought on it, the feeling returned. It seemed to be tugging him toward memories that didn't exist but perhaps he was being paranoid. Perhaps that afternoon in the forest had disturbed him more than he thought. It seemed plausible enough - she had appeared in a dream or two. Not that his dreams were making much sense these days either, she would pop up sporadically, and strangely enough each time she did she was apologizing to him.
Why would she, this Kagome girl, being apologizing to him? And for what? His suspicions had been raised even further then when he'd learned from Jaken he'd been missing several months. That had severely disturbed him, especially when he'd had no memory of this 'disappearing act' he'd apparently pulled. He knew with certainty she'd had something to do with it, but was unable to figure it out.
He lifted his head. In the arched doorway some feet ahead of him old Jaken was peering within.
"It is time."
He nodded grimly, snapping the book he'd been reading from closed. It was amazing how he'd kept this, how he'd found the time to keep writing in the book all this time. Even more so that there remained enough pages for it. This book had been a gift one year. An offering from a nameless traveler through his lands. It had confused him, as there was no writing within its pages and yet it was so beautifully adorned. Later he had figured out it was to be used as a journal and despite his initial hesitation he found writing in the book to be relaxing.
"Time," he spoke, his voice distant and strange to his own ears. All this time he'd been waiting. Waiting for this 'time' to reappear. Year after year more had been revealed to him, as time slowly unraveled the pieces of the future. He stood, his feet raising him to a task he now believed he was destined to undertake. Beyond the doorway Jaken watched him go quietly as he left.
His servants were milling about silently, as though the day were an ominous thing. Shippou the stout young kitsune waited for him by the door.
"Kouga has been notified, the car is waiting outside."
He nodded weakly and stepped past. He knew the kitsune wanted to come, he was practically squirming, but this was his trip to make, and he wanted his time to do this, alone.
He stopped in the doorway, and turned back. In Shippou's hands rested his book.
"You should take this."
He eyed the book and then the troublesome kitsune. After a moment's more contemplation, he silently agreed and took the offered book. Turning away, he proceeded toward the vehicle out-front, his modern human clothes no longer the burden he'd once thought them. No human oil based make-up covered his hereditary markings, his nails were finished, but still bearing their deadly edges, and his furry appendage still slung over his shoulder.
His servant, Kouga, pulled the car door open and he ducked inside quietly. In a moment, they were on their way.
He'd been waiting for this moment years. His blood was racing with the thought. He had been patient, biding his time. His minions had long since staked out the property that surrounded the Goshinboku, the legendary tree, and the shrine that had cropped up around it. As the car pulled up to the curb, he gazed up.
Kouga pulled open his door and he stepped out onto the sidewalk. The humans around him chattered, whispering about his odd appearance, but he ignored them, proceeding toward the finely crafted stone stairs. The stairs he'd seen built. He moved toward them, sounds a blur in his ears. He raised a foot and then lowered it upon the first stone plane, expecting a wave of pain to wash over him. None came.
Years he'd watched, and waited, memories replaying past his eyes, and sensations long forgotten, returned. His mind whispered of things taken place here, memories stripped forcibly from him. The anger had gone. Mostly gone, but she would have things to answer for. He reached the top of the grand staircase and proceeded to pass underneath the torii gate. The courtyard swept open, more familiar feelings washing over him. This place, for some while had been a home to him.
He turned left, making his way leisurely toward the back of the property. He caught it then, a scent on the wind. An aromatic, pungent odor that riled his senses and he unconsciously walked faster toward it. An uneasy feeling overcame him as he approached the well house, the place that had left him back in his own era. The doors were closed - had they not be open when he last left here?
It was uncanny, and left him feeling shaken the way his body was reacting to this. Stress, he felt stressed, and relieved, and anxious. He was feeling almost overwhelmed.
He stepped up and slid the old, rustic door open, and was assaulted by the scent that had caught him on the breeze. Blood. At the bottom of the stairs she waited, faithfully waiting for him, though he doubted she realized she had been waiting. He proceeded down the well steps, dirtying his immaculate shoes with the soil of the well house floor. Her body was spread out, eyes closed, and mouth open as if in a silent cry for assistance. A slight, unhappy grimace upon her silent features.
He kneeled, reaching out a clawed hand toward her blood stained garment, sliding it up away from her wound. The wound he'd so carelessly inflicted upon her so long ago. His fingers slicked through her blood, as he lowered himself down, leveling with her cut. The scent of it filled him, his eyes drifting closed as he traced his tongue along her skin. Her blood coated his tongue, running down his throat as he repeated the motion again, slowly, diligently cleansing her.
He reached, lifting her, pulling her frame against his, head dropping back unconsciously and walked her out of the old well house. He walked around to the back of the house and leapt easily to her window, slipping through it with his precious bundle. Lucky for him she kept it open in the summertime. He deposited her upon the bubble gum colored bedspread.
He watched her a few minutes as she slumbered, gone from the world, lost in her dreams. He wondered what she saw behind her eyelids, what memories, or fantasies her mind conjured up for her. She didn't shift, or sigh, or moan. No words escaped her parted lips, no names, not his. She said nothing, being perfectly still as though she barely breathed.
His eyes drifted over her frame, her blood stained green skirt, and white blouse. Coming to a decision he sat the book aside and kneeled on one side of the bed. She would have to be changed and bandaged; even now she continued to bleed. He reached for the hem of the white blouse, and maneuvering her gently working it up over her body. Her head fell back against her pillow, raven colored hair spilling over her pillow. He stared down at her, creamy expanses of skin exposed to his eyes. He undid the button, sliding the green pleated material down her long, thin legs.
He ran his hands up her shins to her knees, fingertips raised.
She was as he remembered her. Soft, yielding, a gentle, but deadly creature. Were he a youkai of lesser standing he might have felt like a bug in a spider's web. But her power did not scare him. Her untapped, wild strength would not frighten him away.
She could not know it. She wouldn't know the remainder of the purified Shikon's power had been absorbed into her body and melded with her own natural miko strength. She could not be aware that a fierce wave of fatal energy coalesced within her. She could not know fate had intended her to be a woman of power.
He stood, intending to redress her, but as he gazed upon her frame lying there, he suddenly put the thought off. Why hide her form from him? He had intentions for her. He knew not what they were only that they had led him here today and that they would lead him here another day. He left the room only momentary to fetch a few things and returned. He wrapped over her wound quickly, making no fuss over it and stood once more. He stared down over his handiwork, peering over his obsession. Sensing a shift in her power that meant she would wake soon he turned and fled. Now was not the time for his discovery. She was at his will this time.
Kagome drifted towards wakefulness, her mind floating. What was this strange feeling? She fluttered awake. She groaned, pulling herself up on her bed. Her body ached, the wound on her side pulsing with pain. Yet as she looked over herself she came to the dramatic discovery - she was no longer in the well house. Perhaps more startling, she was no longer in her clothes.
She pulled the blanket around her, looking around. Who had undressed her and left her in her undergarments? Her mother wouldn't do that, Souta was flat out incapable, and her grandfather wouldn't dare. So... who had? Better yet, where was this mysterious, perverted rescuer? She peered around, but nothing seemed out of order. Her room was intact, the house was quiet, and she was bandaged. So... what was going on?
She quickly pulled on some clothes and left her room, never noticing the book that had been at her side, forgotten by her visitor. She checked around the house, cautiously but with the feeling no one was there to harm her. In the end, she found nothing and ended up retreating back to her room. She had just decided to crack down on the Algebra when she noticed it.
A book lying on her bed. She walked over, picking up the suspicious item staring at its cover with dread. Books were a bad sign, she though. It looked old, amazingly so. Especially old books. She flipped open the cover which had no writing and scanned the first page.
"A gift to Sesshoumaru ~ Grand Lord of the Western Lands."
Sesshoumaru? How did -? She suddenly had a cold, very nasty chill. This was bad.
She turned the page.
There was no 'dear journal' or 'dear diary' there was just writing. Classic Japanese writing in vertical columns but done so neatly one might have considered it art. It started right in with - "I fail to understand why recording one's thoughts in a book should help, but I have determined to test its usefulness. "
She smiled, how like him to say something like that. Yet at the same time it made her uneasy. This book should not be in her possession. How had it come to be here? She paled with the thought the youkai lord might have been in her bedroom. That it might have been him who had taken her apart from her clothes and left her exposed over her bed, but bandaged. He might get some kind of sick humor out of that, she thought sourly.
But there was no real way for her to find out. She sat up, pulling the book into her lap and looking it over. She sighed heavily. If this was truly his journal, as it appeared to be - she should not be reading it. It was... morally wrong of her. Still, it had been left, maybe it was meant for her to be read? How was she to know? Why did everything have to have so many 'ifs' attached? She really felt like screaming about the unpleasantness of it all.
With the shout she knew her mother had returned. Tucking the book under her pillow she determined she would get back to it later.
Sesshoumaru managed to make it to his plush desk chair before the medication wore off completely leaving him a boneless heap upon his office floor. He groaned, dropping his head down onto his arms cradled up on the desk.
Human medication in this era was a wonderful thing, but it only worked for so long at a time without prescription strength and that was difficult for him to get a hold of these days.
He was, in a very real sense, in hiding. His contacts were reluctant, at best to assist him, and those who did were not as trustworthily as he'd have liked. Perhaps that was why he was seeking her. Needing her. Because he knew deep down she could be trusted. How desperately he'd wanted to crawl into that bed beside her, snag the miko to his side, bury his nose in her hair, and sleep away all his troubles. He wanted to wrap himself in the endless pink, and drown in her scent. The very thought of it made him yearn for her.
His plight was a difficult one and even after 500 years he was not certain he understood it. He'd initially been sealed by his brother's wench, Kikyo, to the pages of a book. 500 years later he'd been released by her reincarnation, Kagome only to be given a second chance when she made a wish upon the sacred Shikon no tama. Only, he'd discovered the hard way that Fate was against him. He'd found out, painfully, it was his destiny to be sealed away for 500 years and because he hadn't, his punishment had been dealt another way.
Tragedy had followed him around for the last 500 years. He hung his head. Rin was lost. His lands suffered and finally were wrenched from him. His pride had been irrevocably damaged. He'd learned the inner workings and emotional backlash that followed a betrayal of someone cherished. To top it off, the jewel's wish had come unraveled. His health had ebbed away slowly as his memories had returned. Day after day he remembered more of his brother's other wench, the miko who now plagued his thoughts daily. He recalled, slowly over time how he'd come to be in his present situation. Many a day he'd longed for her, simply to fall back into the comforting embrace she'd so willingly given him not realizing what he'd had before he'd cast it off so foolishly.
If he hadn't...
If he hadn't made that selfish wish, Rin wouldn't have been lost.
She would have been heartbroken, but she would have lived. She would have married and had children but because of him she'd been tragically snatched from him. Not even he, the great lord could save her when her lifeless body had been destroyed in the carnage. Tensaiga could not revive mere pieces of a girl, if 'pieces' were an adequate term for what had been left of his little Rin.
Tensaiga. How many times had he wanted that sword to heal him? How many times had he looked to it, a plea in his eyes for reprieve and gotten nothing? How many times had Tensaiga saved him from death only to allow him to suffer more? He dropped his head to the desk. And suffer he did. Alone.
But the miko - he'd finally found the miko he regretted leaving. He regretted leaving her nothing of himself, nothing to find him by. Even his own startling change of opinion surprised him. Miko... the miko... his miko. He would have her back. He needed her. Her embrace... where was she now? Now... when he needed her more than ever?
"You've been acting oddly, Kagome? Are you sure nothing's bothering you?"
She sighed for what might have been the thousandth time. "I'm just fine. Really, you can stop asking me already."
The three girls exchanged glances but ultimately let the topic drop before bringing up Houjo. Kagome groaned. Even now Houjo haunted her, when would it end?
Kagome sighed as her friends blathered on about this and that. That book she'd found in her room was on her mind again. Sesshoumaru...
She hadn't stopped thinking of him since he'd gone. Wondering how he was, worrying about his health. Had the wish worked? Was he okay? What about Rin and Jaken? Of course none of her questions could be answered.
Yet the strangest feeling had been plaguing her lately. She felt...watched. She could've sworn she felt youki in the air. It was rather weak, distilled in large portions of air but it was youki all the same meaning youkai were around and lurking.
Worse yet it seemed that they weren't just 'lurking' but that they were lurking specifically around her. Although they hadn't seemed to want to hurt her, but it was disturbing all the same. She stopped as she reached the stairs waving goodbye to her friends. She watched them walk off waiting until they were out of sight before she turned her analytical gaze to the area around her.
Where was it?
There was youki in the air again. Strong youki here... somewhere close...watching her. She straightened suddenly. Was she being stalked by youkai? Did they know about the Shikon no tama? The jewel no longer 'existed' in its previous form but its power did linger around the shrine, more specifically around her, it's guardian.
She couldn't pinpoint it. The youki was all around her, mixed with the air, she couldn't pinpoint it. She turned making her way up into the shrine yard. There was something disturbing about the presence she felt, something familiar and unfamiliar all at the same time. She turned one last time before heading back to the house. She continued on, passing under the Goshinboku only to stop again as she felt a 'tingling'. She looked up into the branches of Goshinboku listening to the quiet rustle of wind. What was up there?
Knowing it was sensed the creature above her head seem to panic as she suddenly saw movement, but only a blur to her human eyes. A small slip of paper drifted out of the branches following the fleeing youkai and she reached for it.
She unfolded the small paper. Inside was a small, pressed leaf She looked up into the canopy eyeing the leaf pattern of the Goshinboku and gasped. In the book left on her bed there was a pressed leaf on the left side of every entry. She now realized, staring at the leaf in her hand, they were the Goshinboku's leaves!
Shippou froze at the icy hiss.
"Eh... heh, heh. Sesshoumaru, didn't see you there..." He scratched his head uncomfortably.
"Where were you?"
"Um... walking. This old place is stuffy."
"I can smell her..."
Shippou backed up a pace. "I went to the shrine. I just wanted to see her, she didn't know I was there... exactly."
The low, rumbling growl caused him to tremble where he stood. Sesshoumaru had been a grouchy thing before but these days he was down right unpleasant in all aspects. Most of the time he was completely silent, and when he wasn't he was complaining. The only thing he really cared about at all it seemed, was his obsessive interest in Kagome, the miko that had battled evil 500 years in the past.
In fact, his interest in Kagome was downright frightening in it's intensity. The few minions Sesshoumaru had were all, in some capacity, to watch and protect Kagome but they were never, never, to touch her or be seen by her.
"All right, I won't go there anymore!"
Shippou managed to slink away from the angry lord without a violent confrontation but he was just narrowly avoiding it. He hung his head lowly. He didn't enjoy it, living with Sesshoumaru.
It was an usual arrangement. He'd met up with Sesshoumaru at the same time as Kouga and Ayame and the remnants of the wolf clan. They had banded together when humans had started hunting down youkai and it became apparent the former glorious youkai lord Sesshoumaru was no longer in perfect health even though he was now of two arms again.
When Shippou had realized just how unwell Sesshoumaru was, he'd taken to trying to protect him along with Jaken.
He sighed heavily.
He didn't regret making the decision to help Sesshoumaru. He'd done it because of Kagome, because he believed Kagome would have done it. Now he'd come to learn that Sesshoumaru and Kagome held some kind of history he wasn't aware of and that Sesshoumaru had a deadly obsession with her.
Well, deadly to anyone who dared to interfere with her and his interest in her. Kouga had learned that the hard way getting a good thrashing from Sesshoumaru and then another from Ayame, the youkai that had long since become his mate.
He would just have to wait it out. Wait until Sesshoumaru went back to her so that he could approach the girl without being snarled at by the viciously jealous youkai lord.
She stared at its pages once more. The book had to be ancient. This time she was relieved however to find it was just an ordinary book. Nothing remotely magical about it. Most of the passages in it were about Rin and regret. He'd wrote extensively on the death of Rin. The entire book was nothing but laments and tragedy.
She carefully filed it away into her side table with a heavy sigh. What did this mean for her? She hadn't seen Sesshoumaru in months, and she imagined to herself she never would again and yet there was this strange feeling in the air. She decided to think nothing more of it and turned her eyes to her backpack. She had a heap of homework to do. She hauled herself up and plopped down at her desk, dragging her bag at her feet. She pulled her advanced geometry book up into sight. Since she'd stopped going to the past she'd been able to catch up in her homework. Strangely enough the 'absence' she'd taken to fight Naraku and collect shards had done wonders for her maturity. Math was the main benefactor of her newly improved self. Although she still loathed the subject she couldn't help but beam at pride at her own progress.
Not only that but tomorrow they were going on a field trip! She hadn't been on one of those in forever! It was just some boring historical mansion tour for history class but she got to spend the day with her friends in a non-studying environment, it couldn't have been any better than that. She sighed. It was going to be great!
Field trip! Field trip! Field trip! It was going to be great. No one could crush her hopes for the day. Or so she thought until she scampered down the stairs to find she'd be walking to school in the rain, but still! They were going on a tour of an old mansion; there was no way they'd call it off because of a little drizzle.
When she finally made her way to the school she found her friends, just as excited as she.
"You're late, Kagome!" Ayumi chimed. "Hanging out with that jealous, possessive boyfriend of yours?"
Kagome frowned. "No, Souta spilled juice all over my uniform at breakfast so I had to bathe and change all over again!" she pouted. "We're still going, right?" she asked, eager to divert attention away from Inuyasha.
Eri smiled. "Yes, Kida-sensei said we're still going. I already asked."
Kagome smiled. "Yes! I'm so happy!"
The girls exchanged looks.
"We're only going on a tour," one of them said, watching, as Kagome seemed to dance around with glee.
"Are you kidding? Do you have any idea how much I need this break?!" she sighed. "It's going to be so great!"
Nearly an hour later they arrived at their destination, her friends having successfully picked up Kagome's enthusiasm.
Kagome gasped brokenly. "It's beautiful!"
She stared up at the ancient mansion. Despite being old the building was in amazing condition. At the door a tall man was standing, grinning, waving them ahead. Their teachers went first, lines of students following after.
Kagome's mood was quickly dampening however as she took one step and then another closer to the mysterious old mansion. There was something tingling her senses, and the closer she got the uneasier she became.
She nervously stepped over the threshold into the house and froze as she realized the source of her distress. It was youki. She could feel it everywhere. Everything seemed to have been tainted by a youkai source. It was such a tangible feeling it almost made her skin crawl.
She blinked herself awake and hurried to catch up with her friends, laughing off her discomfort. Hopefully the youkai the youki had emanated from was not here at the moment, but she got the sinking suspicion he was.
She walked along with her guide, playing the role of good attentive little student while her mind wandered. There was a youkai here. The further they went, the more convinced she became and she was now obsessed with finding it! As the class reached the end of a hall lined with paintings they split off to the right, and she stopped again inclining her head to the left.
The youki again, she thought. Strong youki. She glanced once at her friends retreating backs and turned left, leaving her group. She would be in trouble later but she would claim one of the paintings fascinated her and she was lost. She walked along, hurrying to get out of sight of her classmates, ducking into the first room where the feeling was strongest.
It was early morning, but brightly lit outside. The room however had shades drawn over every window blocking the light. There was a desk and chair - both modern western styles set up but she couldn't make out much else. Wooden cabinets were on the right side near the door and what looked to be a set of doors also curtained to the left of the desk.
She backed up a step as she realized the feeling was stronger here. The youki was everywhere around her, she could almost feel it swirling around her frame as if to devour her. She cast her eyes about trying to find the source, was the youkai in the room? It had to be, she reasoned.
She continued glancing around; wondering where if she'd lost her mind invading the youkai's room. What if it attacked her? Her breath caught sharply as her vision dimmed suddenly a shadowy figure looming in front of her.
She looked up, and then backed into the door in response, eyes widening, and breath halting.
"Sesshoumaru?" She cast her eyes to the floor and then shut them tight. She had to be imagining things. He couldn't really be standing there. Yet when she opened them again, there he stood. Heavily shadowed, but still visible in the weak light of the room.
"Sesshoumaru?" she repeated, but no sound came from the figure. "Am I awake? I could've sworn I woke up this morning though - I can't be daydreaming. I couldn't have imagined the youki I felt either so... How did you... get here?"
He was silent yet again, and she watched as his form slid gracefully forward but slowly taking one step and then another. Her eyes widened once more as she realized she'd seen such languid moves before. Her mouth fell open in surprise as she stepped forward catching him as he tumbled suddenly, as he impacted with her causing them both to fall.
The fall was a painful shock on her knees but she didn't say anything, her hands still on his shoulders where she'd tried to keep him up, but couldn't.
"The jewel...I am not really surprised. I mean, I'm surprised to see you and all, but I'm not all that surprised it didn't work the way I intended."
He lifted his head from its somewhat drooped position, and gold eyes gleamed back at her, silver white hair falling over the backs of her hands.
"Nothing with the Shikon no tama is ever so simple. Even in its most purified form the jewel still holds the tainted souls of demons. Maybe that's why it didn't work..." she mused. "Anyway... how are you? You don't look so well."
There was a low, distinctive rumbling in his chest, but somehow the sound wasn't intimidating as weak as it was. She smiled gently at him.
"This is your house?"
He shifted suddenly leaning forward. Kagome tensed at his movement, mouth dropping open to protest as she felt his hands wrap around her shoulders, the points of his nails sinking straight through her clothing to rest against her skin. He pulled her, quickly and effortlessly forward just far enough for him to lean toward her, his head dropping to her shoulder. He nuzzled his face against her skin, breathing in her scent as she tried to fight her blush.
She struggled to regain her composure, sliding her hands from their awkward position on his shoulders around his back in a loose embrace allowing him the warmth and comfort she guessed he was seeking from her.
"I guess things haven't been going so well then."
There was a little rumble but he didn't speak.
"Surely you haven't lost your voice - ah! You! You were the one who came to my room that day! Weren't you?" She pushed him away and he drifted back, eyes meeting hers.
"What of it?" He growled at her, defensively it seemed.
"If you haven't gotten any better how did you-" she trailed off as he leaned gradually heavier against her. She, with some difficulty managed to lower them to the floor so she wasn't supporting his weight. He... was asleep?
The poor guy, she thought. She didn't hear the footsteps until it was too late. The door was sliding open, but then someone called out.
"Kida-san! Do you have a student, Higurashi Kagome?"
Kagome strained to listen while she held the sleeping youkai lord.
"We just got a phone call about their being a family emergency and that she needed to come home right away!"
Kagome began to panic until she felt him come to life again, shifting his place in her arms. "There's nothing wrong." He murmured. "... My servant..." he murmured weakly pulling her back to him like a treasured teddy bear.
She couldn't say how long she was there, resting on the floor with him, but it had to have been hours. She hadn't even realized she'd fallen asleep until she heard the gentle clinking of dishes and awoke to a smiling face leaning down over her.
Huh? Who was this? She was about to speak when his arms tightened convulsively around her pulling her flush against his chest obstructing her view of the visitor. A low, warning growl was tossed at the visitor.
"Oh, come on! Why can't I say 'hi' too?! You've been hogging her all morning! I even got rid of that pesky teacher of hers so we could keep her, too!"
Kagome blinked. Who on earth was speaking so?
"Sesshoumaru?" At her voice he loosed his grip allowing her to squirm away, but he was scowling about it. She sat up, and then made a point of helping him to do the same although she suspected he was leaning on her more than necessary. She had nothing to base her suspicions on however. "It's almost like before you left, except for the whole dark mansion thing."
She had her back to the visitor, her attention focused on him.
"Kagome! What about me?!"
"Hmm?" She turned slightly. "Um... who are you?"
"You don't remember me?" The youth wailed. He was tall, taller than her with red brown color hair and bright green eyes. She was certain she knew of no one by such a description, but then her eyes narrowed on him. Youki. She looked closer; his feet were covered, as were his hands, his ears...
"You were barely a foot high, fool. Of course she doesn't remember you."
The unidentified youkai sputtered. "I was more than a foot high!"
Sesshoumaru scoffed. "Introduce yourself and leave, you are interrupting."
His tone was anything but accommodating.
She looked back from where she had again turned her gaze to Sesshoumaru. "Hmm?"
"You didn't forget me did you... Shippou..."
"S-Shippou?" She stood, leaving Sesshoumaru causing him another growl, but she ignored it for the moment. "You're Shippou?"
She blinked. He nodded enthusiastically. "I've been staying with Sesshoumaru since I found out he was injured. It's... been a long time actually, he hasn't gotten any better at all but the modern medicine really helps when we can get a hold of it."
Her gaze flickered back to Sesshoumaru. "You have difficulty getting medicines?"
"Most pain relievers aren't strong enough, and the ones that are strong enough are controlled substances and highly addictive," Shippou chirped. "I would know, I am a trained medical professional."
"You're a doctor?" Kagome inquired, looking back.
Shippou averted his gaze. "Not exactly."
"He's a nurse." Sesshoumaru was grinning at the kitsune.
Shippou turned a glare on his master. "There's no shame in that!"
Kagome immediately sided with Shippou. "I agree, I'm very proud of you Shippou. Did you take medical training just to help Sesshoumaru?"
He barely inclined his head in a nod.
"Oooh!" She leapt at him, circling her arms around him in a hug. "Shippou-chan! I'm so proud! You grew up into someone so strong and caring! This couldn't have turned out any better!" Her enthusiasm dimmed momentarily. "Er... unless of course you were better, Sesshoumaru."
His mood wasn't the slightest brightened by either the kitsune or the girl's happiness. She could tell by looking at him.
"He hasn't been eating well. He keeps going on about some 'human food' nonsense. I think it might have something to do with canned goods, but I'm not really sure. Maybe you can talk him out of it."
Kagome nodded. "Is this it?" She asked, finally noticing the cart behind Shippou lined with foods.
"Yup, I brought food for you too, Kagome. I'll be back later, okay?"
He waved and swept out the door leaving them alone and Kagome looked to the tray of food.
. . .
He stared at her and then glanced at the tray of food she was carrying over to him. She wasn't actually going to attempt feeding him, was she? She picked up a bowl, apparently of soup and gently held it out to him.
"Smells good, try it." She urged holding it out.
He glanced up at her skeptically as though perhaps she'd lost her mind.
"Oh, come on. You're in bad enough shape as it is; do you really want to weaken yourself further by not eating? Even youkai need food."
He turned his head away, ignoring her.
"Sesshoumaru!" she scolded.
He held off a smirk. He'd... He'd missed her, hadn't he? She was less apologetic, he realized. Her guilt seemed to have faded with that wish. He looked back meeting clear, but concerned eyes. They were no longer clouded by sadness. He was glad to see that, her eyes were pretty things. The only thing he would admit to about her being 'pretty' at all considering she looked very average. Her eyes were expressive though, bright and always full of emotion.
What would he do now? Now that he had her back?
She was still insistent upon his eating, he realized as she neared him with the bowl.
Would she stay with him? Should he order her to? Would she listen if he did? Would he see the return of the guilt in her eyes? Had she read his journal? Did she know about Rin? He had a million questions, but she seemed solely interested in making him eat the sea green soup in the bowl.
He stared down at it wondering at its lack of steam. What was this? Cold soup?
"It's made from cucumbers, I think it's foreign. I never really liked it personally, but it's probably good for you."
He wasn't hungry. Truth be told he hadn't had much of an appetite lately, the human medications he took often relieved his pain but left him feeling sour.
It was one of the primary reasons he didn't like traditional human' food. For whatever reason it seemed to affect him adversely and he didn't like abdominal upset. Certain human staple foods, well one food most notably, -rice-, made him ill. Although he hated the term- he seemed to be allergic' to it, and it being the country's most used food product, he thought to save himself the trouble by avoiding all things human'.
No one had ever called him on it. Who would ever dare? Except for perhaps this female
He took the soup wordlessly. There was unlikely to be any rice in it, so he tasted it. It was cold. It was supposed to be cold, wasn't it?
"It's supposed to be cold, in case you're wondering. Like I said, it's foreign."
He sipped the soup silently, not liking or disliking it. He barely tasted anything, thoughts too preoccupied to focus on the messages being relayed by his taste buds. He simply downed the cold liquid without word or thought on the matter and returned the bowl to her.
Was she staying? Would she? Did he want her to?
He watched her shift, turning around to grab something else. He caught the scent at once and knew whatever it was included rice. He snubbed the dish only to be reprimanded.
"Oh come on! Just a little?"
He turned away.
She huffed. "I can't believe you're being so childish."
She had better watch that tone, he thought, eyeing her carefully as she put the tray aside.
"So How did you get here?"
Apparently she was going to leave the food matter aside for the moment. He was thinking of his reply when the door slid open. They both turned surprised eyes to the doorway.
"Oh, sorry to interrupt. Kagome there's a phone call for you; it's your Mom. I told her you were here."
Kagome smiled weakly at Shippou. "Okay. I've got to get home now anyway. Um can I come see you tomorrow? Oh wait, tomorrow's not good. How about the day after? Hmm I'm sort of busy then too"
He looked up not liking what he was hearing. She would do other things before she came to him, unacceptable. "You will come tomorrow."
She looked down at him, pausing a moment from tapping her foot. A habit he'd noticed in the last minute or so. One that annoyed him, he thought staring at the now still foot.
He glanced back up when she laughed softly. "Very well, tomorrow then."
That was easy, he thought wondering why she'd given in so quickly. He was left to wonder though as she turned promptly. "I've got to go now, but I'll be back tomorrow. Promise."
She left, and he listened as her footsteps scampered down the hall and down the stairs. He heard her voice drift up to him as she promised her mother she was coming straight home and then listened to her footsteps as they headed out the door and again, out of his life.
His caretaker. That's what she was, he realized suddenly. He'd been wondering lately, what he wanted her for and why he was so obsessed with her. Higurashi Kagome, his half-brother's wench, the guardian of the Shikon no tama, Kikyo's reincarnation and many other titles were hers. Yet the only one that mattered was the one he gave her – Sesshoumaru's caretaker.
He frowned. He was making himself feel like some garden ornament to be cared for. As though he was somehow incapable of caring for himself and yet he was and he wasn't. He wanted her for a caretaker. He wanted to be bathed in her warm, calming presence. He wanted to be fussed over and worried over and not by anyone. He wasn't looking to be the center of attention.
He only wanted her attention and the irrational want of her was near driving him crazy by escaping his logic.
It was the only thing he and the kit had in common was their desire for her pleasing company. He sat back content to wait until the next day when he would be with her again.
Kagome yawned, but was unable to sleep. Her mind was racing. Sesshoumaru. Alive and in her time again, alive and injured once more. She felt the familiar feelings returning; in these couple months she'd felt those old feelings of guilt and sorrow slip away. They wanted to creep back it seemed.
Why hadn't the wish worked? What had gone wrong? Was it too long a time period to effectively bind Sesshoumaru's memories? That just couldn't be. It enabled her to travel back and forth or... maybe that was an inadequate comparison?
She sighed heavily dropping her head back onto her pillow. She couldn't sleep. She hated when she couldn't sleep. No one was awake, she felt alone. She had to be quiet not to wake anyone and so she couldn't really do anything.
Worst of all she was feeling restless. She had nothing to do and could think of nothing but him. Nothing but skipping out of the house and heading to where he was just so she could crawl into bed beside him and let his scent lull her to sleep.
Could you go a time without someone not realizing how much you truly missed them until they were gone and suddenly back again? That's how she felt. She felt bereft and then overwhelmed with the need to see him. To touch and smell him near her, that she knew he was okay. Although she failed to know when it began to matter so much.
Nor did she care for deciphering her feelings on the matter. She wanted to make sure he was okay. Strangely enough, she wanted him to silently reassure her by simply being there. By simply being 'him'.
She tossed and turned discontent finding unhappiness in one thing after another. Tomorrow, it seemed, could not come soon enough. She didn't even realize she was on the brink of sleep until she was jarred from it by a sound near the window. A darkened silhouette emerged in the darkness, but Kagome bit back a scream when something soft wrapped around her neck and across her mouth. Something furry.
It wasn't hurting her, nor was it wrapped tightly just enough to convey a silent message. 'Keep quiet'.
So she complied. The figure approached in all of two seconds and was upon her. She felt the bed dip as a knee was brought up to rest on the mattress and then the blanket pulled back, being pulled out from the aforementioned knee.
The blanket was slid back slowly and the movement made her feel woefully underdressed. She began to panic wondering if there was some rapist in her bedroom.
Her mind was twirling, a jumble of thoughts and 'what-if' scenarios. What would she do? What could she do?
Before she could think whether or not she wanted to attempt a run she felt something suspiciously familiar creeping along her senses. Youki. She sucked in a sharp breath, almost getting a mouthful of fur as she straightened. Almost as two hands suddenly pressed down upon her shoulders, guiding her back down against her pillow, the body of the stranger following hers.
Her eyes widened in the darkness. Sesshoumaru? She wasn't dreaming this whole thing was she? She was tempted to pinch herself until she felt the points of nails against her skin as the fur was unwound from around her neck, sending a strangely delightful feeling down her spine as it brushed against her lips.
"Sesshoumaru?" She spoke, daring to hope that's who it really was.
Male, she realized as he settled fully beside her, the youki still tingling around her. Youkai male, she corrected. It *had* to be Sesshoumaru, plus the fur thing. She told herself all she had to do was reach out and touch him but she couldn't bring herself to lift her hands.
Not, that is, until he leaned close, pulling her shoulder turning her to her side to face him in the darkness. She opened her mouth to speak but nothing emerged. She allowed herself silence as he pulled her closely, her head against his chest. She breathed in deeply and heard him do the same.
Sesshoumaru, she thought, allowing her eyes to drift close. Somewhere in the back of her mind she realized that the night that wouldn't end would now be chased away all too soon by the morning sun.
. . .
Logic be damned, he thought as he nuzzled close to the human in his grip. Why did he need justification? She was a sleep aid, if nothing else. What she was didn't matter.
He clutched her closer, disturbing the now sleeping girl in his arms slightly. She'd surprised him by being awake. Her silence had surprised him when he normally would've expected a scream of 'pervert'. Her compliance pleased him; she folded against him softly, speaking his name uncertainly. Yet she must have been convinced as she melted so contentedly into his arms. She would not have done so were she not sure of her safety.
Safety, he thought briefly. When had humans begun to feel safe in his grip? He wondered if he was losing his touch and then just as quickly determined it did not matter. She, his caretaker, should feel safe. After all, did he not need her? In some twisted little way?
He'd been unable to sleep in his own room. Suddenly everything about his own residence had irked him, and her lingering scent in his office had left him wanting to sleep on the floor. Unable however to stomach being found on his office floor he'd forced himself to endure the trip here.
Getting in her window had been no easy task without his medication either, he thought somewhat irritable, but soothed by her surrounding him. He was, for now, content to just be. Forget everything and stave off the accusations and discoveries until dawn.
He felt new suddenly. New, peaceful, whole... He felt like himself for the first time in a very long time and he wasn't about to let go of the girl that had brought him back the feeling.
Author's Note: You will notice this story has been continued under another name. That's because I've got "Breath in the Pages" posted in several places, and I didn't want to retract the 'oneshot' label. And if you didn't notice, you should have.